Team India suffered a heavy blow after Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra pulled out of the Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 28 in Birmingham. Chopra suffered a groin injury during the javelin finals at the World Athletics Championship in Eugene, where his throw of 88.13m earned him the silver medal.

Read More: Fans Disheartened As Neeraj Chopra Pulls Out Of The Commonwealth Games Due To Injury

Soon after the event, Chopra underwent an MRI scan, and was advised to take a one-month rest. With the prestigious Diamond League finals set to be staged later this year, Chopra decided not to put his body in undue risk. 

“Our Olympic Champion Neeraj Chopra will not be defending his title at Birmingham 2022 due to concerns regarding his fitness. We wish him a speedy recovery & are supporting him in these challenging times,” the IOA’s statement read.

Chopra was supposed to be the flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Birmingham, now less than 48 hours away. But now that his absence is confirmed, we take a look at five leading contenders to lead the Indian contingent on Thursday.

Ravi Dahiya

Currently ranked No. 2 in the 57kg category, Ravi Dahiya is the biggest wrestling star in the country. Last year Dahiya became the second Indian wrestler to bag a silver medal at Olympics, and also boasts of an impeccable record of winning the Asian Championships three times in a row. This will be his maiden outing in Commonwealth Games, and the path to a gold medal will be relatively easier.

Mirabai Chanu

A year after winning the silver medal in Tokyo, Mirabai Chanu is ready to defend her CWG gold from 2018 in Birmingham. Chanu is so confident in her ability that she was ready to participate in different weight category to make way for her compatriot Jhilli Dalabehara. But the international federation didn’t oblige to her request. 

Lovlina Borgohain

Lovlina Borgohain, who won bronze at Tokyo Olympics, caused a stir after accusing the Boxing Federation Of India (BFI) of “continuous mental harassment”. Her tweet propelled the Sports Ministry to take action, and her personal coach has now gained accreditation. Controversy aside, Borgohain is primed for a podium-finish, and is also in the race to lead Indian troops in the event. 

Read More: Olympics Medallist Lovlina Borgohain Alleges ‘Continuos Harassment’ By Boxing Federation Ahead Of Commonwealth Games

Nikhat Zareen

Earlier this year, Nikhat Zareen became only the fifth Indian boxer to become the World Champion, a feat she achieved in Turkey with a unanimous 5-0 win over Jitpong Jutamas in the 52kg flyweight division. But she will be participating at CWG under the 50 kg category. Along with Lovlina, Zareen is India’s biggest hope in boxing.

Read More: Indian Boxer Nikhat Zareen Goes For Gold And Brings It Home 

PV Sindhu

With two Olympic medals and multiple championships to her name, PV Sindhu is the front runner to become the flag-bearer for Team India. Fresh from her heroics in the Singapore Open, where she crushed the Asian champion, Wang Zhi Yi, Sindhu is confident of bagging a gold medal this year. She has already won the bronze and silver at this event, and winning gold will complete her illustrious triplet.

Featured Image Credit: Nikhat Zareen/Twitter